MAKE Asks: Intro to Maker Culture

MAKE Asks: Intro to Maker Culture

Make: Asks is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: When and how did you find out about Maker culture? Whether it was through MAKE or some other avenue, how did it make you feel when you made this discovery?

I was hanging out with some geek friends of mine about five years ago and was trying to hash out a plan for a guitar pedal. One of them went into the other room and slapped a copy of MAKE on the table and said “here, try this.” That was the moment when the world of makers unfolded for me.

Post your responses in the comments section.

18 thoughts on “MAKE Asks: Intro to Maker Culture

  1. Cate says:

    I almost feel like this question should be reversed in my case: “When did you find out there are people who don’t think they can make anything and everything?”

    I grew up in a very DIY household, and there was very little that my parents wouldn’t attempt to make or do. Furthermore, it was expected that I would help with the family “maker” projects, which means I learned handy skills like building furniture and sewing clothes from a very early age.

    Once I found out that not everyone grew up this way, it did take a little while to find other makers. However, I think I’ve always gravitated towards people with a similar DIY philosophy, so, by high school, I had plenty of friends who loved to make and hack as much as I do.

    Now it’s just natural that the people I surround myself with are as interested in oddball creative endeavors as me, which is a great way to live life. :)

    1. tonyv says:

      Ditto for me. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, and every kid I knew played with lego or erector sets, built plastic model kits and pinewood derby cars…on and on. We were all makers. Somewhere along the line I guess everyone just became a consumer, but not me, or any of my friends.

    2. Kent says:

      Ditto as well. However it became abundantly clear to me when I moved to DC that other people thought I was crazy for making the stuff that I do. Most of my “maker” friends are from my hometown. So I started looking into this “maker” culture to find more like minded people in my area.

  2. Gregg says:

    I got a copy of MAKE: Magazine about four years ago. That’s when it started for me. Now I work at a Maker space.

  3. eric m. says:

    In the mid 70’s, I found my brothers stash of Popular Science/Mechanics and spent a lot of time reading and dreaming. While my main distraction is woodworking, I’ve dabbled in metal, electronics, built hand planes, made knives, a telescope, assembled my own golf clubs and fishing rods. I think I enjoy making tools the most.

  4. Tommy Phillips says:

    That sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it?

    I remember as a kid that I built plastic models, and I even tried building my own spacecraft designs from balsa and tissue.

    But as I got older, I found myself drawn more and more to abstract thought. The way the school system was (and probably still is) slanted, we were told that the only life worth pursuing was university-educated, clean, indoor, knowledge work. Any job where you actually built something physical was just a failure.

    And, because I was good at school, and learning, and tests, and possibly because I was a little arrogant and lazy, I bought it. The rise of the computer industry in the 70’s and 80’s just made it easy for me to slide into software, the most abstract world of all. (Allow me a little hyperbole, here.)

    Taking my electrical engineering and computer science classes, I was both fascinated by and arrogantly amused by the civil engineers, the mechanical engineers, and especially the chemical engineers. Dirty hands, all of them.

    Working as a programmer and DBA, I just got more abstract all the time. I stopped playing with circuits. I threw out my unfinished plastic models. Oh, sure, I had excuses. I was traveling a lot for work, life is busy enough without tinkering with non-essentials, etc.

    It wasn’t until I was nearing forty that I began to realize just how out of touch I was. I started working with wood in my garage, acquiring tools, and learning how much of life I had shut myself away from. And how unfair I had been to my brother, who works in plumbing and HVAC.

    When I got a notice from O’Reilly about Make magazine, I thought it seemed like a great thing, but I didn’t start subscribing until the second year. When I picked up issue 4 on the newsstand, it finished cracking my abstract arrogance.

  5. Daniel says:

    I was first introduced to makers by my Grandpa. He made everything with me from pinhole cameras to kites to foxhole radios to windmills to small rngine repair. He made making an tinkering seem like the status quo to me. I was not even aware that it was a movement. It just was. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized that other people let alone kids didn’t or couldn’t do what I could. At that point I understood what a wonderful gift he had given me. Thirty years later I still look back on those first projects and smile.

  6. Phil Mandryk says:

    My Dad was a maker (although that not what we called it back then, I think it was packrat). He got me started building and tinkering with everything. Most of our makes were to solve a problem when a) there was no solution for purchase or b) the solution was too expensive to buy. I purchased my first Makezine one year ago yesterday and was happy to see that there are more of us in the world. My sons are now interested in making too.

  7. Sound Off! MAKE Asks: Intro to Maker Culture Makers Assemble! | Makers Assemble! says:

    […] MAKE | MAKE Asks: Intro to Maker Culture. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. This entry was posted in General and tagged make, survey. Bookmark the permalink. « Hans Camenzind, 555 Timer Inventor, Dies […]

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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